I was riding along with my cousin yesterday, on the way to a client’s site to set up some networking equipment, and he struck up a conversation about voting. I told him I had decided to go ahead and register to vote. This represented a change from my previous position. Both he and my wife don’t understand why I don’t much care for voting, considering my interest in politics. Anyway, he urged me to vote, as he will, for John Kerry. I said “f—k Kerry. What’s the difference? A lot of people are only upset with George W. Bush because he has that ‘R’ in the parentheses after his name rather than the ‘D’.” He told me flat out that’s how he was. So, even if the policies are identical, the party makes a difference. What actual differences are people expecting between the Bush and Kerry administrations? Just about every Democrat congressperson around said that, knowing that Iraq had no WMD, no links to Al Qaeda, and no formidable military said they would have still voted to give the President the authority to launch a preemptive war. This, to me, is sheer lunacy. What is the point of even having the Constitution, which says that Congress has sole power to declare war, if Congress can simply delegate the responsibility to the Executive branch. How is this different from having a dictator with a puppet legislature? He said “Do you want Bush to win?”, looking at me goggle-eyed.
I replied that I did not, in fact want Bush to win. I also, however, did not want Kerry to win. If I had my druthers, the position would be unfilled and unfillable. To which he replied “Rob, somebody’s gotta run the country.” I get tired of that argument. I really got a little ticked, I suppose. I immediately replied, “You know, back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the same sort of argument was made in favor of slavery. 'Somebody has got to tell the niggers what to do. They would be completely out of control if left to their own devices. What would we do without massah?'" I don’t agree with that argument in the past, and I don’t agree with its analog in the present. Humanity does not need a dictator. Some, perhaps, do, and I say let those people turn themselves over to a ruler of their choosing. But don’t force the rest of us to join you on your mad journey into slavery.
I don't know if I made him think or hurt his feelings, because he simply smiled faintly, said "you're right about that" and didn't talk anymore for a while. When we resumed conversation, it was on other subjects, which was probably for the best. Politics and religion are touchy subjects and are usually best left out of family relations. But his attitude shook me. He really seems to think of the President as properly being an elected dictator, rather than a servant who must be watched lest he run off with the silverware and let rooms in your house. True, the President of the United States is effectively an elected dictator, but I don't see how this is anything particularly desireable.